Scripture: Luke 10:38-42
Our culture is busy. We probably, as a culture, have not been as busy as we are now. We have smart phones to keep us connected, Facebook to keep us up to date, and various apps on our mobile devices to occupy our every second of time. Through all of our connectiveness we at times are more disconnected than ever. We have so many options to choose from, we have trouble knowing where to begin.
All too often we get trapped in a cycle of busyness. Many of the things that devour our time are often filled with great and honorable things. Through it all we can be left exhausted, and empty. We begin to seek something more, and in doing so we wrap ourselves in yet another cycle of busyness.
The story of Martha and her sister Mary is one we often hear, a story that calls us to take a side. We are asked questions like are you a Martha or a Mary? We are lead to believe that Martha had less faith than Mary. That somehow Mary is the ideal. This would be an adequate view of the story. All to often these interpretations attach themselves to the feelings of guilt and shame that rage within our spirits. But that is not the approach that Jesus takes. Rarely does Jesus ever push guilt and shame, in most cases Jesus does the opposite. Jesus usually attempts to redirect people’s minds to grace and forgiveness.
Back to the story, often we are encouraged to focus on the faith of Mary, but I want to ask who exactly welcomed Jesus to the house? It was Martha. The story of Mary and Martha is less about who is better, but a story we each find ourselves in.
Martha and Mary are caught in a cycle of life. Life has changed so much in the past millennia but there are a few things that are similar. For the past 2000 years and more, human existence has had similar needs: the needs of food, shelter, and security. These things have been the very things that consume our time and energy today, as they were the very things that occupied the lives of all men and women throughout the ages. For centuries men and women have labored to put food on the table, and sought companionship. They have joined together in families, clans, and tribes to develop bonds of security and to form a more efficient way to survive. All along the way things become increasingly more complex.
Martha invites Jesus to the home. But a home in ancient times is quite different than today. A home or house would not be the place a family resided but a small village. Servants and other laborers would be all around, working the fields tending the flocks, and tending to the other needs. Martha invited Jesus to live in the community with them.
We just like every culture throughout the ages realize that we cannot be alone. We as humans need others around. We need a community to cover the various tasks. We require others to fill in the gaps, and meeting a need.
Martha invites Jesus to the home. To invite someone to the community is to recognize that there is a need that only one can fill. Every community has a need that can only be filled by one.
Think about that for a moment. In every community we are involved in we have a place. It may be mother or father, it might be employee or manager, or it might be student or teacher. In each case there is a role that only we can fill. We seek out the ones to fill each role necessary in our community, and when we find and when they fill their role we begin to see our true selves. We see the reflection of our true identity. We each have a teacher or some one else that rose above all other, one person that changed the course of our lives, the one that allowed us to see the world differently. This person allowed us to dream of greatness, or inspired us to try something that we may never have before. As time progresses a new need emerges and someone else rises to fill the need and again we begin to see things all anew.
Martha invites Jesus to the house. Martha the oft-regarded villain of the story is in fact the one that opens the door to wonder. It is Martha that welcomed the one into the house that would change everything for the family. The story begins to change.
If we were to think back through our lives we would soon remember someone that opened a door into a new chapter of our life’s story. We may even be able to find several. They were our teachers, spouses, children, a coworker or a friend. Each opened to us a new expanded perspective of life. Someone in our life opened a door.
A community grows and gets more complicated. Martha is a caretaker of the community. She arranges and organizes, and she carries the worries of the community on her shoulders. Martha opened the door, but even the strong in the community can lose sight of what is important.
Martha had a sister, Mary. Mary is a free spirited person living in the moment. The type of person that helps us realizes that there is more to life then duty. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus listening to the words that he speaks while Martha is running around preparing a meal for the guests. Martha opened the door and Mary entertains. Two very different gifts but both very important, each is vital to the health of a community. But as with every personality clash Martha and Mary are found at odds with each other. It is a typical sibling thing. You may have had similar roles in your family, being the responsible one, or the troublemaker.
But Jesus uses this sibling squabble to teach some very important things. We all can be distracted. Martha is a very faithful woman. She has provided hospitality; she has shown love to Jesus and his followers and welcomed them into the community. This is what we all should do. Martha is a shining example to each of us as to how we should treat those around us. But in all her service she is distracted.
Yes, the busyness of our lives, the smart phones distracting our attention and calling us to various tasks can distract us. Service to others can be just as much of a distraction. Ministry can be a distraction. I will let you catch your breath for a moment, and repeat myself. Ministry can be a distraction. We can get so caught up in doing the work that God has called us to do that we forget to spend time with God. It is a scary place to find ones self in. In our ongoing quest to walk down the roads of faith we miss the exit because we get to busy.
This has happened to many of us. We are asked to serve on a committee and we are excited because we are doing the work of the Lord, only to find one year down the road we are burnt out and tired. We begin to develop hardness in our hearts because we are doing all the work and others are not carrying their fair share of the load and through the hardness a root of bitterness enters into our lives that threaten to divide the community. What is it that is upsetting us? Is the other in the wrong or are we the ones that have missed the mark? From this root of bitterness we evolve into judges and start claiming sin in others, all over a difference in perspective. Martha and Mary are sitting in a pivotal point; hanging before them is the essence of the entire question of faith and religion, as well as the Kingdom of God. Is the Kingdom one of service and deeds, or is it one of grace and faith?
Jesus knows Martha, and he loves her. He says to her, “Martha, Martha you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.” You may read into this and assume that Jesus is lifting Mary up and chastising Martha but that is not the total truth. I say this because directly after this story, in the next chapter, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray. So Jesus is showing Martha that there is a rhythm in life. He is saying to Martha that we need a community to teach us that rhythm, a rhythm of prayer, worship, and service. Mary is showing Martha something important, just as Martha is teaching Mary something important. Each has their place in the community, and each should honor and listen to the other to learn that rhythm of life.
Through the three years of Jesus’ public life he exemplified this rhythm to his followers. He withdrew to the isolated places to pray, He made it his custom to worship in the synagogue, and he ministered and healed all who came to him. After the ministry the repeated the cycle again. He lived a life with a tempo of prayer, worship, and ministry; of loving God, embracing the Holy Spirit, and living the love of Christ with others as our own mission statement says.
Martha is rushing around trying to do everything, trying to make the community a better more hospitable place, and along the way inside her she anger and resentment is building because she is missing the one thing that only Mary can show her. But in her quest to minister she is distracted, and can only demand that Mary does things her way… it almost sounds like so many communities around the world. But there is only one thing needed, the Spiritual rhythm.
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus; we know that she is more in tune with this life because she is mentioned many times in scripture. She is the saint Jesus chose to first appear to after he rose from the grave. We know that she was not just an idle person wasting time, but that she participated in ministry throughout her life. But she had discernment because she listened to the teacher. She waited at the feet of Jesus and listened to his call. How often we are distracted from this very thing. How often we allow the worries and busyness of life distract us from sitting at the feet of our loving Lord and Savior.
This happens to us all at one point or another. It happened to George Fox, throughout his journal we read that he went to one place to meet with friends and minister, and then to another, then he would find himself in jail, and then out preaching again. But he wrote in one place that after a meeting with friends, he took up his book of scripture and walked out into the fields as he used to do. He found himself busy in ministry, busy in life, and he had to find direction again by withdrawing to the isolated place to pray and then he could come to worship and minister in the right spirit. It is this spiritual rhythm that connects and builds the relationship with God, a faith of grace and works wedded together. This lifestyle builds and sustains a community allowing each member to participate in their own special way, and allows each personality to enrich the others.
Most of us look at Mary and Martha and we ask ourselves which of the two do we identify most with. Which can be a wonderful examination of our spiritual lives, but it goes far deeper, because both women are women of faith, and we are people of faith. If we are to only pick a side we are in essence picking a side and drawing a line to divide the community, which is not what Jesus wants for us. Instead he wants to offer us an abundant, full and satisfying life. This is a life filled with grace and love that spills out of our hearts into the lives of those around us. We gain this life if we turn from our old ways and begin to follow him. It begins with opening the door, just as Martha did. It continues with sitting at His feet, like Mary. But is fulfilled with living with him in community just as both women show us.
As we enter into this time of open worship and communion as Friends, let us remember the people in our lives that have opened the doors to allow us to see things in a different light. Let us also think of those who annoy us with their different approach to faith and let us ask Jesus to show us how to love, bless, and honor them as he allows them to show us a different perspective of faith as well. But most of all let us open the door to the Christ who was born, lived, died, and rose again so that we could have an opportunity to live in a community build on love, hope, and grace.
Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
What must we do? This is a question humanity has asked from the dawn of time. It is even believed that the first sin of the world was that humanity began to ask this question, that we must do something to gain or achieve the love of God. The serpent in the garden convinced the first family that God did not create them perfect, that He did not give us knowledge. So the serpent suggested that maybe we should do something so that we could gain what was missing, eat something.
What must we do? It is a common question, each of us have probably asked it once or twice. We may have even asked that very when we woke up this morning. What must I do to gain the favor of God? We can come up with countless answers to this question.
Throughout history people have been trying to answer this question, yet the question remains. For millennia the greatest human minds have been working on this question, but it still remains. The answers vary throughout the cultures yet there is still one thing that remains, a fragment of the truth. Things like karma, is an answer that states what ever you do will come back to you, the good and the bad. Yes that is just some eastern spiritual gibberish but there is a fraction of truth.
For thousands of years the Jewish community, the community that had a finger on the pulse of the very breath of the universe, had come very close to the answer yet even they only had a fragment. We see this in the scripture.
The lawyer comes to test Jesus. He asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He asks the very question that echoes from the dawn of the ages. Jesus answers him saying, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
The children of Judah can trace their roots back to a man that listened to a whisper in the chaotic world, a voice that asked a man to do one thing only, to trust. This man lived his life on the very breath of God. He put all of his faith on a whisper, “Go and I will make you a nation.” There is an answer in that, if one nation has their finger raised into the wind of the whisper of God. This one man listened to the whisper, and left all he knew to find all he wanted. A nation was built and that nation was given the book of the law.
Jesus answers the question by asking this man to look through his own history, what does the book say? The answer, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
This simple answer is the easiest and most difficult answer to understand. Jesus looks straight in the man’s eyes and says, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” I imagine he then turned away to begin walking. Leaving the man standing there just like each of us. We wonder as well. Just like that a simple answer leaves us wondering… what? What must we do? Just like that we again are thrown into a loop. Ever circling back over what must we do?
The man, a teacher, a lawyer who knows the law feels justified in his understanding. He has been living and teaching this law as long as he could remember, yet in a moment he questions Jesus and himself, “who is my neighbor?”
Throughout all of human history we have asked this one thing, what must we do? Jesus tells us a story that we have heard numerous times. A man gets beat up and robbed on the way to Jericho. He is left on the side of the road bleeding. Three people come across this man. The first is a righteous man, a priest, who has devoted his life to loving God. This man has dedicated his life, has stood between God and mankind for his entire life, the gatekeeper. The number one thing of the law is that it proves that we cannot make it on our own. The world leaves us broken and beaten; we need help to save us from ourselves. This man has stood in that place, the gatekeeper helping people to the promise. Providing the sacrifices that heal the wounds, yet there when a man is lying broken and in need he walks to the other side.
We wonder why this man did this, we wonder why a man that has dedicated his life to assist others in need would leave this broken man laying there on the ground, but we know the answer.
The second man was a Levite. Like the priest the Levite ahs dedicated his life to the service of God. While the priest stands before the alter, the Levite is the assistant. They are the ones that sing in the choir, they distribute the alms to the poor. The Levites are the ones that have given their lives to support the ministry of the priests. Yet even this man walks to the other side of the road, leaving the man still broken and bleeding on the ground. We wonder again why a person that volunteers their time to serve God would leave this man. We wonder but we know the answer.
We know the answer because we ask the question, “What must we do?” For the priest he must do much, the sins of the community are on his shoulders. He must listen to the prayers, hear the confessions, and offer the sacrifices. This man must stay above, separated from the world. It is easy for us to judge this priest but what would you think of a priest that would be found getting involved with such an unreligious and dirty situation? What would you think if a priest or man of God would be found in the news on the wrong side of a political situation? That is what this is; the bandits on the roads were often the freedom fighters trying to fund their war against the Romans.
But the Levite, this man is not a priest. The Levite is not held at the same level, but there are standards for religious people. Religious people should live a certain way, and not get involved in the things of the world. A beaten man, a man caught in the middle of the gang warfare, is one of those things that the religious people just do not get involved with. We would prefer to overlook these sorts of things, sweep them under the rug and forget about them. We wonder why they could just leave this man hurting on the side of the road but how often do we walk on the other side of the road?
How many times have we, in our righteousness, turned our faces from the ugliness of the world around us and simply walked away? In our quests to do the right things we too walk on the wrong side of the road. We overlook things and justify in our own minds that we are doing the right things. How can we judge the priest and Levite for leaving the man lying on the ground bleeding, when we ourselves drive on past the homeless man or woman sitting on the corner? How can we judge the priest and Levite when we too look away as children, women, and men are being exploited?
Jesus tells this story to a man that had dedicated his life to the law of God, a righteous and religious person. Yet it is not the religious person that is the hero of the story, but the enemy of God. The Samaritan is a man that comes from the people that turned their backs on the pure and true faith, seen through the eyes of the Jews. Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom, the kingdom that fled from the rule of Jerusalem after the death of Solomon. They left the kingdom and established their own nation, their own place of worship, their own priests and worshiped in their own way. Because of this they were seen as lesser humans to the pure and faithful.
This Samaritan, walks by the beaten man and has compassion for him. The righteous ones walk on the other side of the road, but the dog of the north has compassion. This man administers a healing balm to the cuts and bruises, pays for lodging and meals, and promises to come back to pay for more if it is needed. Jesus then asks the man was a neighbor to the man?
Which person loved God? Which loved their neighbor? Love is the first and only command of God. Love God and Love mankind. We cannot love God without showing mercy to those around us. We cannot love others without loving God. Love is the breath of God. What prompted Abraham to leave his family’s house to explore a life with God? It was the breath of God, giving a hope to a man that had no hope. His wife was barren when they left Ur, and Abraham was full of love to share. No other god gave him hope, but this God that whispers in the language of Love.
We miss the whispers when we are busy trying to do the things to make ourselves worthy of God’s graces. We cannot hear the whispers of God if we reject God’s language. When we reject the calls to give mercy to others because our minds are filled with the static of self-righteousness, we reject God. When we fail to give mercy to others because our minds are focused on personal gain we reject love and we reject the breath of God. When our lives are filled with the white noise of the countless things that clutter our minds and consume our time, we cannot detect the whisper. A while back I went in for a free screening to test my ears, it was a pretty thorough test. They did the traditional buzzing in my ears asking me to raise my hand when I heard the noise. Then they began to pump noise in one ear and asked me to detect the sound in the other; quickly I realized that I was unable to hear. I could not tell if the buzz was real or just my imagination. I then began to realize that that is what we do to God.
We turn the volume up on everything around us. We clutter our lives with distractions only to find that we can no longer detect the whispers of God. We think we are hearing Him, but is it our imagination? We over compensate by applying our knowledge of the scriptures or various doctrines of the faith, but are we listening to the whispers of God? We apply our worldly wisdoms and our personal philosophies of life to the things around us, but in doing so are we loving God and loving our neighbor? We judge, we draw lines, we close doors, and set standards but in doing so have we crossed the street leaving a broken hurting person laying in the ditch reaching out for help, all the while distracted by the doings of life to hear the whisper of God prompting us to reflect His mercy.
I stand up here and I speak these words knowing full well that I have crossed the road. Yet God still whispers. After all the times I have rejected Him, He still whispers and prompts change. Slowly one step at a time, one sin at a time, one distraction at a time His voice grows louder as I turn closer to Him. What initiates this change? Someone along the way did not cross the street when I was the one bruised and broken. Someone along the path saw my need and listened to the whisper of God. Which of the men was a neighbor to the broken man on the roadside, the one that gave mercy. Jesus looks the lawyer in the eyes and tells him, “Go and do likewise.”
What must I do to gain eternal life? Show mercy to the broken people in this world, help those in need, and sacrifice yourself for the good of other. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” Love… That is what Christ did for all of us. We did not deserve His love, but He gave it to us anyway. Love so deep and powerful that He gave submitted to the pain and shame of the cross, taking our place. And He then says Go and do like wise.
As we enter into a time of open worship, let us just celebrate the great love that God has shown us. Love that he has shown us through the lives of those that have helped us when we were broken and bruised, and that great love of our savior who was born, lived and taught, died and raised from the dead to give us the greatest hope of all, life with God.
Scripture: Luke 10:1-10, 16-20
Scripture is always interesting. Like I mentioned last week, we can read a passage one day and due to the various aspects of our current life, we can read it again a number of days later and it would move our souls in a totally different way. This is why it is often said to be living. But the words themselves are not what is living but the Spirit behind the words working within us. We can study the original language and know the history and cultural background to gain knowledge of what the writers might have been talking about, but even with this knowledge without knowing the Spirit behind the words they are just as empty as any other work of literacy.
The cycle between the knowledge of scripture and the mysticism behind the scripture has been running throughout history. We see it in the conflict between the Pharisees and Sadducees; we see it also throughout the ages of the church. This cycle was the difference that started the schism between the Church of England and the original Friends. Often the Quakers are seen as not having a high regard of Scripture because they would focus so fully on discerning the Spirit. George Fox in his journal said, “Yet I had no slight esteem of the Holy Scriptures, but they were very precious to me, for I was in the Spirit by which they were given forth: and what the Lord opened in me I afterwards found was agreeable to them.”
What that means is that both the Spirit behind the scripture and the words of the Scripture will be in agreement. At times we may not understand how they agree, like how last week the would be followers of Jesus could not say goodbye to the family while in the Old Testament Elisha was allowed to say bye to his family before following Elijah. In fact most critics of the Scripture look at these seeming contradictions and stop, not taking the time to really seek out the answers. Then there are others develop theologies around one reading and disregard the other, which is where we have most of the debates among protestant churches. For Friends we do not necessarily take sides in these debates but try very hard to harmonize what we read and also what seek discernment in prayer. It sounds like a lot of work.
Scripture is layered with various literary styles: humor, poetry, legal documentation, and story. We can read it with a literal or mystical eye and come to two very different understandings of what is being said and both could be equally correct or completely off of the mark. How then do we know what is right?
George Fox would go out into the fields with his scripture to pray and meditate. In many ways this practice mimics the practice of Jesus when he would withdraw from the crowds to the isolated places to pray. Then if you read Fox’s Journal you find that he would go from town to town meeting with friendly people just as Jesus would move around Judea speaking about the Kingdom of Heaven. I am equating George Fox with Jesus. George Fox is not perfect, in fact George could be a bit of a jerk, but I am showing that George Fox understood the spiritual rhythm that Jesus exemplified.
Jesus taught this rhythm, sharing it with his closest friends, who then taught it to others. Today we see that the followers of Christ have grown from a group of twelve to over seventy. Jesus first sent the twelve out in pairs and then he sends these seventy out in pairs. They once could draw people to Jesus’ ministry from six communities and now they can reach over thirty-five. The laws of multiplication are at work. The most interesting thing about this is how Jesus sends people out. He appoints seventy and sent them out before him, but when he sends them out he sends them in pairs. This should show us something very important.
The kingdom of God is one that is a community from the very beginning. The earliest stories of life with God written in scripture speak of man and woman, Adam and Eve. Creation was not good until there was a community. Mankind cannot live without a community because we are social beings. Our brains do not function without community, without some form of social even the strongest person will be driven mad becoming physically and mentally ill, to the point of death. We need others; we cannot truly be ourselves without others to reflect our personality off of, to be clearer we are not known until we build relationships with others. It is a mystery of science that flies in the face of the individualism that many of us hold as a core value. It is a mystery that has been proven countless times. Our greatest technological advancements have occurred not in the lab of a single individual but in collaboration. There is a reason the term “mad scientist” emerged because the isolation of a mind.
We cannot be alone. We cannot come to God by ourselves only. Yes, God interacts with us personally, but often we can be led astray by our own mind. That is why we need others to encourage and hold us accountable. Jesus sends them out in pairs. Alone they could be consumed by the power that Jesus bestowed on them. Alone they the conflict between the world, flesh, and the devil would run interference between the ability to discern the will of God. Even in pairs they had trouble keeping their mind fully directed on the mission they were called to.
There is second layer of this passage that speaks to me. Jesus sends out the seventy others in pairs, he also sends them out without any temporal provision. “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.” We can look at this as being a statement of stepping out in faith or we take a different view. On the surface it definitely speaks of how we should have faith that God will provide, I believe that that would be a correct interpretation. Could there be another layer, one that speaks about freedom and simplicity. Jesus is saying take nothing with you, he gave similar advice to others. The advice says that we cannot serve God fully if we are not free from the worries of the world. If we are worried about what we will wear or what we will eat, our focus is divided. With a divided mind we are bound and not free to serve. This is why simplicity is a core value within the Society of Friends. To have simplicity of speech, clothing, and finances leaves us free to focus our calling.
Jesus sent these seventy without the bondage of the world’s values. He sent them with the assurance that God would provide. He will provide. If we as a community are called to enter a new ministry, He will provide. If we are called to participate in a form of service as we discern the moving of the Spirit, He will provide. This does not mean that we should be unwise in our actions; it instead means that if we are called to act, we should free ourselves to act. If God calls us to build we build, to go we go. We go with God and as a community.
Why do I stress the community again? This is another core value of Friends. Community. We often think and speak of God being personal, that is true but God works through a community. Even in stepping out in faith there is a community aspect involved. Jesus tells them to go to houses and if that house accepts the peace given by the seventy they must stay there. He does not tell them to rent a room, but to immediately establish a community. If the house does not accept the message to preach the coming Kingdom then move on. A community is built on simplicity, peace, integrity, and equality. With in those core values, is a ribbon of love. We speak of a personal relationship with God but that personal relationship is only the beginning of the community that personal relationship with God brings us into a broader community, a kingdom. A kingdom that was established before time began and will continue beyond the end of ages. A kingdom of love, a kingdom of hope, a kingdom that is not satisfied with ourselves only but wants to expand.
The calling God gives us personally is given to expand the community, and the calling that God gives us corporately is given to expand the community. We are never alone, but always surrounded by friends, and to attract more friends. This attraction and calling is to bring those around us into a closer relationship with Christ. The seventy come back to Jesus excited about what they were able to do. They went out freely ministering. They were healing various illnesses, commanding demons to leave, and the community was growing. They cannot wait to tell Jesus what was going on. A community based on love, a community that is focused on encouraging others to draw closer to God one step at a time will grow, if it is free to do so. The community grows one step at a time, one issue at a time, healing one person at a time, and multiplying.
The seventy are excited the community grows, but there is also a warning. With power comes temptation. As a community grows we become excited and begin to think that we did things to make this happen. That in ourselves we have been able to bring about the changes that we see before us, but Jesus brings them back into reality. “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Even within a well-meaning community pride can seep in. Even when we think we are doing everything right, distractions emerge. God gave us the power to do what he calls, but if we need to keep things focused. We do not need to rejoice in the growth of the community, or in the miraculous feats occurring around us but our focus should always be on God.
This week in the prayer exercises in the spiritual adventure class, it speaks of spiritual indifference. This sounds like a very negative term, but in reality it means contentment. What if we are called to minister in way that the world around us is not excited about will we still have joy? A few months ago there was a day that was set aside to raise awareness of modern day slavery. Those that wanted to participate were encouraged to sport a red x for others to see. I drew an x on my hand and many asked what it meant, when I explained to them that it was to raise awareness of modern slavery, every person I talked to could careless. The same attitude existed when John Woolman began his ministry, and when William Wilberforce would raise the issue in the British Parliament. Yet each of these men continued their ministries, why because their joy was not found in acceptance of the world but in the calling. Each established a community that grew but even as it grew they stayed focused on the cause. Neither man saw a complete end to the slave trade. Obviously it still continues even to this day but each saw progress. Contentment, is simply taking joy in our calling, finding joy and meaning in our relationship with God individually and as a community.
Scripture is layered, it has a powerful living quality, but that life comes from our relationship with God. That relationship grows in community and we need the community to continue that growth. Our ministries grow out of the communal calling of the community and finding our place in that community. But the joy comes from the individual time we spend with God. It all boils down to Prayer, Worship, and Ministry or Loving God, Embracing the Holy Spirit, and Living the love of Christ with others.
As we enter this time of open worship I ask again what distracts us from God? What could we do to free our lives so that we can answer God’s call? How is God calling you and where is he sending us as a community? And where do we find joy in our life?